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First issue of the Journal Club

Pradeep Sharma's picture

Everyone, In many ways it looks like that the J-club is off to a good start. As of a few minutes ago, Michelle's issue had 1130 reads which is quite impressive since (far as a recall) the issue came out not too long ago---sometime before mid Jan. I am thus quite optimistic about the prospects of the J-club.

On a personal level, I learned something quite interesting from Michelle's special issue with a possibility of a future research direction! I wish we had more comments but it seems that many of our members (while seem to be interested in reading the issue itself) are not ready to post any comments. The few comments that are there are quite interesting....see in fact the latest one by DiDonna (whom I invited to participate). On my part, I sent several emails to people who I know to be involved in this field (encouraging them to read the issue and post comments).

Teng and John: I would request you to do the same as and when your own issues are ready. I am finding out that many of our colleauges, while deeply interested in the ongoing activities on iMechanica, need a gentle nudge to participate. Based on the time that the first issue appeared, I think it is logical to select the 15th of each month as the release date for the subsequent issues.

John: are you comfortable with Feb 15th for your issue on computational mechanics?

Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear Michelle: Thank you so much for the first issue. I find your writeup and the subsequent discussions perceptive, and the topic very interesting. Before your post, I didn't even know about the topic. While I could not find time to read the papers in depth, and participate in discussion, your theme has intrigued me, and I will pay attention to the topic in future! In fact, I have printed all paper, including those mentioned in the discussions, and have put them all in one (real) folder. Suppose that I will find time to learn yet one more interesting thing!

I suspect some other people are also in the same situation. To me, the Journal Club need not have a uniform outlook. Some themes may be very popular and attract lots of comments, others may be thinking-out-of-box but not ready for mass consumption. As long as we focus on mechanics at its most revealing or interesting or unsettling or useful, we'll find the jClub valuable.

Dear Pradeep and John: Regarding time, if you look at the date of Michelle's post, the date was 8 January 2007. I think it might be a good idea that we try to post a new theme in the first week of the month. This way, we can properly call each theme the Theme of the Month. What do you think?


  I've been thinking quite a bit about this (probably because I'm next on the block!).  I'm happy to release my post mid-February, if not a bit earlier.   

   What I'm wondering is if at some point down the road it might make more sense to have jClub topics form more organically from iMechanica based on existing discussions (forums or otherwise).  So, for example, if we see a lot of discussion around a particular issue, we might identify it for the next or a future issue.  We might also try to identify hosts on this basis, with their responsibility (assuming they agree to the job) to really get into the literature and try to shed further light on the theme at hand.

  Of course the downside of this is that it does not necessarily bring new topics into the fold.  But my view is that as more people begin to look at iMechanica on a daily basis, we won't have to worry too much about topical diversity: it will come naturally.  


Edit: I fear this may have been interpreted as criticism or concern for the way things are going.  This is absolutely not the case - I think we're off to a great start, and only suggest that we keep an open mind about how things evolve.

Teng Li's picture

Dear All,
First of all, thanks Michelle for giving a great debut of JClub in iMechanica. I found the topic interesting and Michelle's writeup informative. This issue exposes me a new field of research I'm not aware of before. I enjoyed going through the suggested papers and tracking the discussions. I share with Zhigang's situation and believe it is typical for many of our JClub readers. With more and more iMechanicians become familiar with the topic, more comments may follow up. The discussion can last even longer, as we have noticed in some posts in iMechanica. For this consideration let's keep the January issue up at least until Feb. 8. And I also suggest the discussion leaders continue moderating discussions if possible, (you serve only once a year and are interested in your selected topic anyway). A back issue can stay upfront in "Popular content" if it attracts enough readers and stimulates active discussions.


MichelleLOyen's picture

Thank you all for the positive feedback on the first issue of the Journal club. It's a very interesting experiment and I'm sure it will continue to evolve with time.


As for the future topics of the J-club, I'm going to go out on a limb and disagree with the idea that the topics should be related to existing discussions on iMech. I believe that such a philosophy could risk making iMech feeling like an exclusive club of people working on a narrow set of topics instead of a broad forum for participation by all people with mechanics interests. I clearly believe that the J-club is one mechanism to expand the participation of iMech and encourage cross-disciplinary discussion, and thus I feel strongly that the topics should be as broad as possible and not only those that are actively being discussed on iMech. I also hope that we can encourage new faces from outside iMech to lead the J-club in future issues.



Zhigang Suo's picture

Dear John and Michelle:

I believe that papers for jClub may be selected from any source. This includes papers in traditional journals, as well as papers posted in places like arXive and iMechanica. A Discussion Leader may even go out of her way to ask for drafts from individuals who have exiting papers in progress. The only requirements, as listed in the Operating Notes, are

  1. that the paper be accessible to a lot of people
  2. the paper be deposited in a place with a trustworthy timestamp
  3. the paper is of interest to mechanicians

In this spirit, we might as well be totally indifferent to whether a paper is already in iMechanica. To favor papers in iMechanica might encourage more people to register and post, but might also narrow our scope. To avoid papers in iMechanica would certainly discourage people to post their best work in iMechanica. Of course, an individual Discussion Leader should have complete freedom to choose whatever papers that please her. Perhaps we don't need to limit the scope in any way other than the three conditions listed above.

What do you think?

Pradeep Sharma's picture

The less restrictions the better. In that sense the three points in the operating rules (summarized in Zhigang's post) are thus quite adequate. We should allow as much freedom as possible to the discussion leader. As proposed by John, the discussion leader may choose to use iMechanica to make judgement on hot topics but let that be the decision of the person-incharge at that time. Readership and iMechanica user feedback will automatically weed out the least effective experiments.

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